Beyond the Bottom Line: Working With a Dedicated Software Development Team

When an MVP has matured far beyond its baseline functionality, the wise product owner considers shifting from a project-based development strategy to contract help from a dedicated software development team.

From decreased rates to long term budget and labor forecasting, businesses and their technical partners alike benefit from ongoing feature enhancement. But the benefits of a dedicated software development team are also its Achilles’ heel.

It’s too bad, since all of this could have been avoided with more careful planning upfront.

Without proper planning business leaders can miss the value provided by a dedicated software development team. But on demand data, project transparency, and periodic progress reviews help businesses and their tech partners make the most of developers’ legacy knowledge and align everyone around critical goals.

The Secret to Success With a Dedicated Software Development Team

In software development as in life, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Product owners need to think in terms of the value added by the product-to-be. But the intersection of process, stakeholders, and communication that must take place up until then demands just as much consideration.

It’s the secret to ensuring continued value from a dedicated software development team.

Why Work With a Dedicated Software Development Team Anyway?

The big idea has to do with lower costs — and reduced risks. In the right situations, few would argue against the economics of transitioning to a dedicated team engagement.

For products further along in their life cycles, product owners usually commit 15–20% of the revenue their product generates to continued product development. This keeps that vital piece of software viable to both the business and its users.

Any development firm is likely to offer a few different options to help product owners when it comes to arranging long term work with a dedicated software development team. When the two parties can align expectations and the proper talent, harmony happens.

The client can lock in a reasonable budget to devote ensuring progress is made on the product in question. Spend for the software can then be forecasted reliably, removing several degrees of risk from the overall business plan.

Why a Dedicated Software Development Team’s Blessing is Also its Curse

But reduced rates and a groomed product backlog tend to capture business-side stakeholders’ attention for only so long. For those who are far-removed from a dedicated software development team’s day-to-day progress, conceptualizing value added can get difficult.

Progress is more difficult to discern when, for example, work shifts from building new interfaces to subtle, yet critical capabilities like high runtime or advanced administrative features.

If accomplishments are perceived to be smaller, trust in the technical team begins to wane — even when good work is actually getting done.

How to Ensure Long-Term Success With a Dedicated Software Development Team

Since the value of a dedicated software development team can get more difficult to measure the further away one is from it’s daily tasks, product owners must carefully take extra steps to communicate progress and value provided to those from the business funding the project.

By tracking meaningful data points in the project, the product owner creates transparency for stakeholders and begins a more informed conversation about the value delivered by the dedicated software development team in question.

Ask for On Demand Data

There is more to value than just lower labor costs.

Mapping and reviewing sprints in a Scrum board in the context of a recent invoice is one way to demonstrate how progress is — or isn’t — made in a given period.

But when the business and technical partner share a project tracking system, leadership on both ends can digest more granular data relating to spend, the hours put into developing new features, as well as the impact of those features on the business.

Over time, such analyses can be applied beyond the immediate project and in other business units to optimize other business development efforts.

Schedule Frequent Check-ins

High stakeholder involvement is the essence of Agile development. Routinely reconvening all constituents to review spend, project progress, and accomplishments allows everyone to align on major decisions and to manage ongoing expectations.

Additionally, if there are changes in the makeup of the teams from the business, the technical partner, or both, frequent meetings can help in the transfer of legacy knowledge.

Addressing information gaps early and often means interruptions to a project’s progress are kept to a minimum. In other words, the developers you pay for aren’t wasting your time or resources.

Build Mutual Transparency

Transparency and trust go hand-in-hand, and both are difficult to achieve without high accountability from both sides of a partnership.

When both parties can bring high participation and a commitment to sharing actionable data to the table, they can hold on another accountable.

And leadership can effectively determine how much value their dedicated software development team actually delivers.

How to Make a Dedicated Software Development Team Worth It?

Shifting to a dedicated software development team model forces product owners and their teams to think less about the next destination — Version 2.0, a higher runtime — and more about their rate of progress as they work through a feature backlog.

Not only must they determine meaningful weekly and monthly commitments to feature improvement. They must stick to it. Without enough tickets in the sprint backlog, the product owner wastes the business’s money.

But even teams that work steadily through healthy backlogs aren’t immune to the misperceptions from the business partner.

In businesses with decision-makers several degrees removed from weekly progress reports between the product owner and her team — and all of the great work they might accomplish in between — they are less likely to understand the real value that that team can deliver over time.

Any feeling of lost momentum from a dedicated software development team is worth investigating thoroughly. To judging the situation too quickly — and without the help of project data — can lead to a miscalculation of the team’s actual value and finger-pointing.

Determining Value Takes Two

Before entering late-stage development with a technical service vendor, product owners and business leaders can prepare themselves for a more value-driven engagement by doing at least these two things:

  • Look to their development partner as a provider of granular data that translates value into tangible terms
  • Accept that successful development takes two: not only are talented technical minds needed, but so are critical and knowledgeable players from the business. When both make themselves available to one another, any disconnect is mitigated as they work to realize a product’s full business and technical potential.

Image Source: Unsplash, Mathias Jensen

Original post can be found here.

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Authored by
Stanislas Walden.

Stan loves to make the obscure more apparent, the complicated more human and approachable. He strives to communicate the complex themes inherent in software development trends in a way that sparks curiosity and invites exploration.When he’s not researching or publishing a new article, Stan enjoys running around a few of Minnesota’s many lakes and looking for new recipes.

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